I asked Jennifer, with Tierney Plumbing, to answer some questions and share insights into plumbing. Like Robin and Rob, she works with her husband, Ron, in their business. Ron is a Master Plumber and has been in the plumbing business for over 30 years.
When doing a bathroom remodel, the plumbing is one of your major expenses. You have a toilet, vanity sink(s), vanity faucet(s), shower faucet(s), tub faucet, and all the drains to go with those.
I agree that plumbing is one of your major expenses, especially if you have an older house and a remodel is on the horizon. Pipes don’t last forever and they begin to deteriorate. If you are changing the layout of the bathroom, pipes and drains may need to be capped off and moved.
Yes, it’s always a good rule of thumb to have a plumber out for a quick check when doing any work around water lines and drains. For example, let’s say you want to replace the tile in your shower. You don’t like it, it’s old, grungy looking, you want new tile in there. It’s easier to have the plumber come in and check your lines while you have all of the tile out, than it is to replace the tile and find out afterwards you have a damaged line and have to rip out that new tile.
It is also a good idea for a plumber to make sure that the shower floor is floated (water flows to the drain) and the drain is in good condition. Many tile contractors don’t float the shower floor or inspect the drain before they lay tile. They are tile contractors, not plumbers.
What about the plumbing that we do not see?
Much of the plumbing you do not even see, the pipes in the walls and the pipes and drains in the slab. You will not find plumbing issues until you have demolished the bathroom or there is a visible leak. Remember those visible leaks could have been happening under that shower or behind that wall longer than when you finally see it.
Most water damage is from leaking drains and shower areas that aren’t properly sealed or the grout is missing and water finds its way. To test the integrity of your tile or shower pan, you can fill the shower area with water to see if the water level drops. But this does not test the drain. If you have access to a clean-out, you can fill it with water to see if the water level drops. This is a static test which can determine if your drain line is leaking. Use a contractor that is reputable and a plumber that doesn’t cut corners. It will pay off in the end.
What kind of maintenance and checks can we do to catch things early?
It is important for a homeowner to inspect their tile to ensure that grout isn’t missing and to yearly have it sealed. Check your shut-off valves underneath the sink and behind the toilet to ensure that they turn off. If you have problems turning them or the valve doesn’t shut the water off, have a licensed plumber come out and replace them. It’s too late when you try to turn them off and they don’t function properly, you ultimately will need to turn your water off to the house which for most people that is at the curb. Turning your water off at the curb is not easy.
Any other advice you’d like to offer for us?
One thing that I have learned in this business. If you are in the market to buy a house and the house is mature (10 years or more), always request a static test. We replace many drain lines/sewer lines due to roots growing into the pipes and basically causing your toilets and drain lines to back up. Most people plant a big tree in their front yard. Most sewer lines come from the curb straight to the house.